Thursday, July 24, 2008

Losing My Religion



              I thought that I heard you laughing
              I thought that I heard you sing
              I think I saw you try

              --Losing My Religion, R.E.M., Cover by Tori Amos


He saw her sitting alone.

She glanced at him and stirred her drink.

The ice cubes swirled lazily with her straw.

"Hey," he said.

She didn't look up. "Hey."

"They abandoned you here?"

"Looks that way."

"That's pretty cold," he said.

No answer.

Even the ice cubes didn't make a sound.

He thumbed toward the group chuckling at the bar. "If you want, you can--"

"No. Thanks. I'm going to head out," she said. "Right after I finish this."

"It's just some people from work."

"You better head back before they miss you."

He straightened. If only those damn ice cubes would stop moving.

"You know, I left a message on your cell phone," he said.

"You left two, actually."

"Okay, two. I guess was giving you the benefit of the doubt."

"I've been busy," she said.

"Sure you have."

She took a drink.

"You know," he said, "usually this is the point where I wander away not understanding what the hell happened and thinking I blew it. This is the point where I apologize and wonder what's wrong with me."

She finally looked up. She did have amazing eyes. Too bad.

"But not this time," he said

She nodded a yeah-okay-gotcha kind of nod.

"So, I just want to thank you."

"Oh?" she said. "For what?"

"For saving me a whole lot of trouble."

Not long after, he saw her empty table had filled again.

18 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Very nice dialogue.

JaneyV said...

I don't know how you do it…your dialogue seems so effortless and yet it is always perfect. Economical, truthful and flawless.

Great piece Jason. Lots of under-the-surface stuff bubbling away under the sterile brush-off. Really wonderful.

Sarah Hina said...

Her studied avoidance and indifference of the situation is really galling. Really, she is as cold as that ice.

The power shifts, though. He wants, and deserves, more than she is willing to give. And, thankfully, he realizes that.

I love the pic, Jason, and the inclusion of the song lyrics. For me, that song has always been about desperate insecurity. But I think your character rises above that in the end. Someone else will come.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Now here's what we're talking about, visualizing two people and their setting without the distraction of physical descriptions. The tension is very real and identifiable. I'm taking notes.

Sheri said...

What's interesting to me is I could have switched the roles and for me it would have made more sense. From a woman's POV, I feel men are more likely to sit there cold as ice acting indifferent while the woman is left dangling her heart out there on a string.

But I guess it goes to show, we are all capable of all things and why stick to cliches.

Love the picture (and the song).

jason evans said...

Charles, thanks!

Janey, thanks for the kind words! I have to say that dialog is probably the easiest thing for me to write, meaning that I struggle with it the least. I try not to jinx it by thinking too long and hard about why. I definitely look to dialog to be a major element in my novel writing.

Sarah, excellent insights. Perhaps the story is most about a person who is learning healthy boundaries. If he stops looking so intensely outside of himself, maybe he will finally be free to find and love the kind of person who will give him as much she receives.

JR, thanks! Grabbing hold of the energy of the scene, the core life of it, rather than the frilly edges. That's the kind of strength I want to capture.

Sheri, some of my prior vignettes also have that role reversal feel. I guess I like to push against the traditional gender roles, because, yes, reality rarely fits into patterns or expectations.

Lena said...

i could practically hear them talking and visualize the whole picture. It was as if i just sat here nearby.

Bernita said...

Yes! Neat - and just.
My main reaction was "serves her darn well right."

Vesper said...

Great dialogue!

And I love that song...

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Amazing dialogue!I could almost hear them :)

Playing-hard-to-get doesn't pay off always.

Have a nice weekend!

jason evans said...

Lena, you've just described the reader experience I always shoot for. Thanks for that!

Bernita, amen, my friend. Amen.

Vesper, thanks. :) Are you familiar with Tori's version? I just recently discovered it.

Sameera, strange things happen when people come together. More gets mixed up than sorted out.

Remiman said...

Jason,
It felt right..............
Yeah, it felt right.
rel

ChrisEldin said...

I love that song. It means something different to me every time I listen to it.

I agree with everyone here, and was surprised (in a good way) about the reversal of stereotypes. I've seen a few women like that. I think women who are capable of this coldness can do it much better then men (is that another stereotype?)

Your dialogue is always trim. It feels authentic, and I love how you tend to add only a detail or two to capture the atmosphere (the ice cubes in this one) Very nice!

Kate.Lory said...

Wonderful, Mr. Evans!
very nice

jason evans said...

Rel, thanks, my friend.

Chris, that's a good point. Maybe in women, that chill can be more knowing. In men, maybe it's true indifference. But in even that, it's good to challenge the stereotypes. (Thanks for the kind words about the writing! A couple touches of scene description can be so potent.)

Kate Lory, thanks for stopping by and thank you for the compliment!

Miladysa said...

There is always such an amazing atomosphere to whatever you choose to write. Lovely piece!

paisley said...

what is it about the human psyche that is forever laying the blame with in???? loved this.

jason evans said...

Miladysa, such high praise. Thanks!

Paisley, I'm terrible at that. Every blame feels like it lies within.